Even though your teeth are some of the hardest bones in your body, they’re also the most prone to tooth decay. That’s because your enamel, or the outer layer of your teeth, take the hardest hits grinding down food and protecting your teeth from cavities and trauma. Enamel can become weaker when a person indulges in sugary foods and drinks, suffer from bruxism, or take certain medications that, as a result, wear down your enamel.
Luckily, enamel erosion is easily identifiable for dentists and can be addressed. Today, we’ll be looking at the causes of enamel erosion, why it cannot be restored completely, and what you can do to repair your enamel over time.
Enamel Erosion 101
Enamel is the protective, outer layer of your teeth that guard you against infections, decay, and diseases. As teeth are one of the strongest bones in the body, the enamel that protects your teeth is the most susceptible to what you eat, what you drink, and how well you take care of your teeth. Over time, the enamel can wear down from the use they experience and can be affected by these various conditions:
- Plaque – Plaque is a sticky substance that builds up when a person doesn’t have proper hygiene and eats food high in sugar and acid. Many factors can contribute to the buildup of plaque besides hygiene, including cases of dry mouth, medications, and teeth grinding, all of which prevent saliva’s ability to wash away the harmful food particles and bacteria that make up plaque.
- Tartar – Over time, as plaque builds up and the teeth aren’t cared for, tartar can form, creating a hardened substance of plaque that cannot be removed by regular brushing and flossing. Tartar in these cases will need to be removed by your dentists during an annual cleaning.
- Cavities – Cavities present the next stage of enamel erosion. In contrast, the plaque and tartar continue to build, the bacteria within these sticky substances erode the enamel and reach its way to the dentin and root of the tooth. In these cases, dentists can treat the presence of cavities with either a dental filling, a root canal, or in severe cases, a tooth extraction.
- Gum Disease – Gum disease is another condition also caused by plaque, typically coinciding with enamel erosion. The plaque buildup affecting the teeth can also reach its way into the gums, causing them to become inflamed and bleed.
When healthy enamel is present, it protects your body from all these conditions. However, once enamel is lost, it cannot be restored because the body cannot grow new enamel. When it comes to erosion, your focus should be on repairing the enamel you have and strengthening it from further deterioration.
The Power of Calcium and Fluoride
Strengthening and repairing your enamel can be done through a process called remineralization. Using fluoride and calcium products can improve the enamel by forming a protective layer that neutralizes acids and aiding saliva in its natural buffer against plaque and cavities.
To learn about how remineralization works, contact Dr. Ruth Roach Morgan and Dr. Jessica Morgan Vaughn at Dental Solutions of Mississippi in Canton, MS, for more details, and schedule an appointment with us today to see how we can help keep your teeth healthy.